The Hypothesis-Driven Physical Examination

Brian T. Garibaldi, Andrew P.J. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The physical examination remains a vital part of the clinical encounter. However, physical examination skills have declined in recent years, in part because of decreased time at the bedside. Many clinicians question the relevance of physical examinations in the age of technology. A hypothesis-driven approach to teaching and practicing the physical examination emphasizes the performance of maneuvers that can alter the likelihood of disease. Likelihood ratios are diagnostic weights that allow clinicians to estimate the post-probability of disease. This hypothesis-driven approach to the physical examination increases its value and efficiency, while preserving its cultural role in the patient-physician relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-442
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Clinics of North America
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Accuracy
  • Evidence-based physical diagnosis
  • Hypothesis-driven physical examination
  • Likelihood ratios
  • Reliability


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